Bernard Levin

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Bernard Levin (19 August 1928 – 7 August 2004) was an English journalist, author and broadcaster. He was best known for his columns about political and social issues which appeared in The Times.


The Pendulum Years (1970)[edit]

  • Stealthily the computer advanced, vanguard of the technological revolution, hailed as the cure for all mankind's ills and denounced as the baleful force which would first enslave and then destroy us all.
  • Political cynicism strode on, quickening its pace; and no wonder. Attempts were made from time to time to authorise the presence of television cameras in the House of Commons, to bring the sight of the legislature at work into the homes of the people, and thus forge stronger links between voters and voted-for, to the lasting benefit of both.

Enthusiasms (1983)[edit]

  • We live in a querulous age; more, we live in an age in which it is argued that to be happy is frivolous, and expecting to be happy positively childish.
  • My work, in which I have had much success, as the world counts success; the causes, great and small, in which I have laboured; the varied passions I have chronicled in this book; as soon as the comparison is made, the answer is plain.

Now Read On (1990)[edit]

  • As I say, I know nothing of wheeler-dealers and their wheels. I do, however, know a little about human beings, and a lot about the English language, and I needed no more than that to button my back-pocket in case Mr Cornfeld went by.
    • "Do You Sincerely Want to be Swindled?", The Times (23 March 1989).
  • I said that although the customers of these shops are directly involved, ultimately it concerns everybody, and so it does. For it epitomises two tendencies in our world, and both of them are nasty.
    • "Invariably Upwards", The Times (20 November 1989).
  • But once upon a time, we could play shove ha'penny, and read a penny dreadful, and sing a song of sixpence, and take the King's shilling; and once upon a time even further in the past, five sparrows could be bought for two farthings, and yet not be forgotten. Somehow, the transaction would not have had the same effect if the sparrows had been sold for two pee.
    • "For Love or Money", The Times (27 November 1989).
  • It is the fact that the longing for freedom is not just embedded in every true soul's heart.
    • "From Spark to Furnace", The Times (26 December 1989).
  • The explosion of peaceful, mass revolt which has ended Soviet rule from Berlin to Bucharest - and will shortly end it also from Lvov to Vladivostok - was set off not by the eloquence of charismatic leaders, not by hatred of the oppressors, not by hope of gain, but by that tiny yet searing flame which is in us all, and which no Niagara of oppression, hunger or torture can ever extinguish.
    • Ibid.
  • But it is silly to brand liquor as the cause of alcoholic self-destruction, when far more deep-rooted psychological problems are responsible, with drink (and now, of course, drugs) being only the means.
    • "Of Ale", The Times (13 February 1990).
  • Come; if you were worried about your children eating too many things with sugar in them, because you feared it would harm their teeth, which would you do - stop the Mars bars or ensure that they brushed their teeth thoroughly? You would vote for the toothbrush? Well, the food-wowsers would vote the other way, and that is how you know them.
    • "Of Cakes", The Times (15 February 1990).
  • As for trying to be funny — well, long ago the late Tom Driberg proposed that typographers should design a new face, which would slop the opposite way from italics, and would be called "ironics". In this type-face jokes would be set, and no-one would have any excuse for failing to see them. Until this happy development takes place, I am left with the only really useful thing journalism has taught me: that there is no joke so obvious that some bloody fool won't miss the point.
  • The Times (23 February 23 1982, as cited in Shady Characters, Keith Houston, 2013)

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